10 Questions with Bob Fogarty

Nile Andah, class of 2017, caught up with Mr. Bob Fogarty before his retirement to find out more about what makes him tick. Here’s what he discovered.

Bob Fogarty's last homeroom

Q: How long have you been teaching?

A: I’ve been teaching for 36 years and have taught in four different Mercy elementary schools: Our Mother of Good Counsel in Bryn Mawr, Saint Thomas-Good Counsel in Bryn Mawr, Saint Matthias in Bala Cynwyd (my alma mater-Class of ‘65), and Waldron Mercy Academy in Merion Station.

Q: Did you enjoy teaching in the schools other than Waldron Mercy?

A: Absolutely! The administrations, staffs, faculty, parents, and students from those schools were fantastic. I learned the craft of teaching and the spirit of Mercy by teaching in those schools. I have many, many great memories of heading up yearbook staffs, coaching soccer, baseball, track, softball, basketball, and moderating clubs like auto mechanics, break dancing, wood burning, garage band, woodworking, and photography.

Q: Have you always taught at the Middle School level?

A: I have. The very first homeroom I had was 7th grade at Our Mother of Good Counsel. The entire 7th grade consisted of 20 students and I estimate that they would be about 52 years old today. I am still in touch with some of those students and have actually taught some of their children.

Q: What would be the top five memories during your teaching career?

A: Number one would be meeting my wife, Ann, at Saint Thomas-Good Counsel. She changed my life forever. Number two would be teaching my nieces Caili and Kit Fogarty and my nephew Jay Fogarty. Caili, a graduate of the University of Delaware is using her art degree in her job at Anthropologie. Kit is a junior at Fordham studying Communications and aspires to be a TV producer. Jay is a junior at Saint Joseph’s Prep and this year has the lead role in their musical, The Music Man. Number three would be winning the Teacher of the Year Award for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia while teaching at Saint Matthias and the Sister Mary Cephas Award (Teacher of the Year) while teaching at Waldron Mercy. Number four would be being recognized by Sister Patricia Smith, a former principal at Waldron Mercy, as a person who lives out the charism of mercy in their life. She asked me to become a Mercy Associate, one who is affiliated with the Sisters of Mercy, and she was my sponsor throughout the process. This year marks my 20th year as a Mercy Associate. Number five would be the privilege of knowing, teaching, and being associated with so many great students over the years.

Q: Have you always taught religion, or have you taught other subjects?

A: Religion is not the only subject I have taught. I have taught every subject in 7th and 8th grade, including music, gym, and art and have enjoyed teaching them all. I feel that teaching all those subjects made me a well-rounded teacher. The only subject I haven’t taught would be a foreign language. You have to remember that I began teaching in a parish school where every teacher was required to teach all subjects. Classes were self-contained, which means I taught the same grade all day.

Q: What are your interests outside of school?

A: I love to read and am currently enjoying George Mumford’s book The Mindful Athlete and Silence by Thich Nhat Hanh. My students know that I am a huge practitioner of mindful meditation. I’ve taken several education workshops on mindful meditation and and it seems to be catching on in schools across the country. My vision would be that every student, teacher, administrator, and staff member would be instructed on how to meditate properly and then to ‘drop in’ everyday at the same time to meditate together as a community for 10 minutes. What could be better than a community with less stress and anxiety? I also enjoy playing guitar. I am self taught  and have been playing since I was about 15 years old. I enjoy experimenting with open tunings and dabbling in songwriting and multi-track recording. I also enjoy exercising...walking, rowing, and working out on the Total Gym (just like Chuck Norris!).

Q: How did you come up with the concept of intramurals at recess?

A: It was easy. The idea basically came from the students. At Saint Thomas-Good Counsel I moderated an Ultimate Frisbee league. Grades five through eight had recess at the same time, so interested students signed up to be in the league. That was followed by a draft, a season that lasted all year, an all-star game, playoffs and championship. At Saint Matthias, I followed the same format, except the sport was street hockey. Those students loved their street hockey! At Waldron Mercy we play three intramural sports at recess. They are touch football in the Fall, Basketball in the Winter, and Tennis Baseball in the Spring. The students absolutely love it! I’ve been moderating intramurals at recess for 25 years.

Q: You moderate the Mercy Neighborhood Ministries After School Outreach Program. Where did your love of outreach come from?

A: I believe it began while I was in high school. I was a member of the Community Service Corps. One day a week we would board a bus after school and travel to tutor elementary students in an economically stressed neighborhood school. I really enjoyed that. While teaching at Saint Matthias I would take students to Saint John’s Hospice on some Saturdays to serve food to the homeless. At Saint Thomas-Good Counsel I would take students to visit the elderly at the Rosemont Manor Nursing Home. Now I enjoy watching our Waldron Mercy students give of themselves by traveling to Mercy Neighborhood Ministries twice a month after school to make crafts with about 50 pre-kindergarten students. I always say that it’s not about the crafts. It’s about our students following in the footsteps of Catherine McAuley by making a connection with the students at Mercy Neighborhood Ministries.

Q: You have been known to have hilarious sayings in class. They have become famous among students. Where did your well developed sense of humor come from?

A: I grew up in an Irish Catholic family in Bala Cynwyd and am the fifth of eight children. If you didn’t develop a sense of humor in that environment, you just weren’t going to survive! I also think I learned all about humorous sayings during my time at Msgr. Bonner High School in Drexel Hill. I had a lot of great lay and Augustinian teachers who had fantastic senses of humor and whose sayings during class became iconic and were often repeated by students.

Q: This is your retirement year. What are your thoughts about your career and what will you do during your retirement years?

A: Well, I’ve enjoyed the vocation of teaching and am so glad I was called to follow that path. It was the right choice for me. The time flew by and there was never a dull moment, especially at Waldron Mercy which offered so many opportunities to get involved in so many different activities. Ann and I will do some traveling and we are looking forward to ‘hanging out’ with family and friends. We are looking forward to getting to know our grand nieces and nephews. I will also come back to Waldron Mercy as a substitute and am looking forward to that. I’ll also stay involved in Mercy Outreach, especially serving at Mercy Neighborhood Ministries.

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